Jay Z has released “Picasso Baby: A Performance Art Film.” Directed by Mark Romanek, the video is a new spin on the music video and brought the performance of “Picasso Baby” from Jay’s Magna Carta Holy Grail into a more intimate setting: an art gallery. The result is beyond anything we’ve seen in the industry, even from Jay Z himself.
The video was shot at New York City’s Pace Gallery last month, as Jay Z invited spectators and viewers in for a unique experience as he interacted with fans, other artists, and art enthusiasts while the Timbaland-produced instrumental played in the background. The list of cameos is long with Marina Abramovic, Wale, Judd Apatow, George Condo, Rosie Perez, Taraji P. Henson, and others leading the charge.
Video can be found below as can some words from Romanek’s interview with Huffington Post on the piece.
“About three months ago, Jay invited me to his office to hear the album. I was really impressed. I thought it was his most mature album and I thought it was a real leap for him, and we both expressed a dissatisfaction with the way things are done and a desire to do something different. He name-checks a lot of artists, so it immediately put me to mind of the whole fine-art world, and since he’s a performer I started thinking about a performance-art piece involving Jay’s music. And every time we tried to think of something that was radically different from Marina [Abramovic]‘s piece, it never seemed as good. So we said, what if we do something very much like that? But it was important to me that we weren’t just ripping her off, that we had her blessing, so we reached out to her and she loved the idea and said she’d be happy to bless the event with her presence. The phrase “music video” got tossed around a little bit at the beginning, and both of us were like, “We don’t want to do a music video. That’s from another era. We need to do something that’s more genuine, more spontaneous and more alive.”
The idea of performance art came to mind. I was aware of Marina Abramovic’s Artist is Present, even though I was in London shooting ‘Never Let Me Go’ and didn’t get to go. And the idea that Jay-Z regularly performs to 60,000 people at a time, I thought, ‘What about performing at one person at a time?’ He absolutely loved it. He interrupted me and said, ‘Hold on! I’ve got chills. That idea is perfect.’ He thinks, like me, that the music video has had its era. I also wanted to make sure we had Marina’s blessing. So she attended the event and took part in the event. She couldn’t have been more happy or enthusiastic about us using her concept and pushing it forward.”